PNW gaming community highlighted at Game Awards; ‘Ghost of Tsushima,’ ‘Among Us’ nominated

(Sucker Punch Image)

Several games from the Pacific Northwest’s development community are among the major nominees at the 2020 Game Awards, an annual livestreamed ceremony that celebrates the highest achievements in the video games.

The Bellevue, Wash.-made samurai epic Ghost of Tsushima, made by Sucker Punch as an exclusive for the PlayStation 4, is one of the most celebrated games at the show. It grabbed nods for Game of the Year, Best Narrative, Best Art Direction, Best Audio Design, Best Action/Adventure Game, and Best Game Direction. Ghost’s lead actor Daisuke Taiji, who voiced and provided motion capture for Ghost’s protagonist Jin Sakai, was also nominated for Best Performance.

Ghost has the third most nominations of any game that’s up for an award at this year’s show, behind Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II and Supergiant’s Hades. In the last year of the eighth generation of video game consoles, this year’s nominees tell a story of the PlayStation 4’s overall dominance, as three PS4 exclusives — Ghost, TLOU2, and Final Fantasy VII Remake — collected a full 23 nominations between them and represent three out of the four most honored games at the show.

Other Game Awards nominees from the PNW this year include:

  • InnerSloth’s Among Us, a two-year-old game that is clearly sliding into the show on a technicality, and is up for Best Mobile Game and Best Multiplayer
  • Valve Software’s Half-Life: Alyx, nominated for Best Game Direction, Best Audio Design, Best VR/AR, and Best Action
  • Nintendo’s runaway hit “life simulator” Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which picked up nominations for Game of the Year, Best Family [Game], and Best Multiplayer
  • Microsoft and Moon Studios’ Ori and the Will of the Wisps, grabbing nods for Best Art Direction, Best Score and Music, and Best Action/Adventure
  • Bungie’s online multiplayer shooter Destiny 2, which collected nominations for Best Ongoing and Best Community Support.

Xbox Game Studios also picked up a Games for Impact nomination — a category that celebrates games that are made to provoke thoughtful or emotional reactions — for publishing Tell Me Why, a choice-based, investigative adventure game by the French studio Dontnod Entertainment, the makers of Life is Strange. TMW, about a young transgender man who returns to his hometown with his twin sister to learn the real story behind their mother’s psychotic break, also won a Best Xbox Game award at this year’s Gamescom.

Other Microsoft-published games that are up for awards this year include Mojang’s Minecraft Dungeons, a Diablo-style hack-and-slash game that uses the trademark Minecraft aesthetic, for Best Family; and both Gears Tactics and Microsoft Flight Simulator, which are competing for Best Sim/Strategy. If you’re feeling charitable, you could also give Microsoft partial credit for its new acquisitions, as it now owns the studios behind both Doom Eternal and Best Role Playing candidate Wasteland 3.

Dontnod’s Tell Me Why. (Microsoft Image)

Ghost of Tsushima‘s competition for the 2020 Game of the Year is particularly fierce, as 2020 has been a solid overall year for the games industry. It likely always would have been, as between a Destiny 2 expansion, a new Call of Duty, the PC release of Red Dead Redemption II, and a new Star Wars game, the fourth quarter of 2019 was a killing floor for video game releases. Many publishers opted to delay their releases until early 2020 to avoid getting crushed by the competition, which meant the first half of this year was a relentless parade of hits. Subsequently, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many video games picked up a larger audience than they otherwise might have, due to the entertainment needs of a socially-distanced, quarantined world.

Ghost is up against Animal Crossing, which basically got half the world through quarantine with its sanity relatively intact; Hades, an indie hit adventure game that tasks the player with escaping from a richly-depicted Greek underworld; id Software’s Doom Eternal, the latest installment in the hallmark first-person shooter franchise, which pits the Doom Slayer up against both heaven and hell; the long-awaited remake of Square Enix’s beloved Japanese RPG Final Fantasy VII; and The Last of Us Part II, a violent, revenge-fueled stealth/action game set in the post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest.

As far as predictions go, it’s probably not safe to bet against The Last of Us Part II this year, which has provoked a particularly strong reaction among game enthusiasts. Fans either seem to hate it or want to found a small religion around it, with very little middle ground. As the Game Awards are given out based upon a public voting process, conducted via submissions at the Awards’ official website, that’s the kind of thing that’s likely to matter here. Hades, a celebrated indie with a loyal following, is the dark horse contender here, but it’ll have a hard time competing against mainstream tentpole franchises like TLOU2.

(Nintendo Image)

Nintendo is also impossible to count out, as usual. Animal Crossing is one of the best-selling nominated games at the Awards, and as is Nintendo’s wont, it’s run the table on the Best Family category. There, Animal Crossing is up against Nintendo’s own Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit and Paper Mario: The Origami King, as well as Minecraft Dungeons, Activision’s Crash Bandicoot 4, and the British viral hit of the summer, Fall Guys. While you probably can’t count the latter out, as it was a big streaming success, Nintendo’s going into Best Family consideration with a big advantage. It’s also not impossible that it’ll pull off the Game of the Year upset here, as a lot of people have been playing New Horizons for the last eight months.

The Game Awards’ nominees are selected by an international jury of media and influencer outlets, which are in turn appointed by the Game Awards’ jury on the basis of their past critical evaluations.

The awards ceremony, hosted by games journalism veteran Geoff Keighley, will stream live for an international audience on Dec. 10 at 3:30 p.m. PT. American viewers can watch via just about every livestreaming platform that anyone has ever heard of, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook Live, Steam, and Tiktok. Content creators who are interested in “co-streaming” the 2020 Game Awards can apply to do so via the Awards’ website, and will receive an official co-streamer media kit.

The night of the Game Awards is also traditionally a big occasion for video game announcements, such as debuts, content patches, and release dates; much like the Super Bowl, you can assume that most consumers are watching for the commercials. While we already know a few major possibilities are off the table, such as updates on Halo Infinite, the makers of Among Us sent out a teaser this afternoon via their brand-new verified Twitter account:

The teaser also came alongside an official sneak preview of a new multiplayer map for Among Us, set on the bridge of a starship that quite resembles the classic Enterprise, from Star Trek.

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